Working together to maximize the net social benefits of community development programs
For all countries to have adequate resources to provide essential social services
Working together to maximize the net social benefits of community development programs
For all countries to have adequate resources to provide essential social services
It all began in 2006 with a trip to Africa to observe the work Mark Warren had begun through the organization Global Benefit USA. Mark was the driving-force behind the development of Global Benefit USA who were working in Rwanda, providing clean water sources to the surrounding villages of Kigali. His father, Don Warren, had accompanied him on the trip. Prior to the African trip, a colleague of Don Warren mentioned that he was seeing much benefit by supplying the trace mineral selenium to HIV patients living in one of the slums of Nairobi.
Dr. Warren, a naturopathic doctor, and his son, Mark, planned to go to Kenya on their way to Rwanda to see a charitable program, Our Kenyan Kids, started by Don’s brother, Doug Warren. It was decided to bring selenium to Kenya, in order to provide it to a small group of women involved in that program; women who had been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. On his return to Kenya in 2007, there was such an improvement in these women’s health that it was proposed to do something similar in Rwanda where Global Benefit U.S.A. was active. The use of selenium in HIV/AIDS was supported by growing scientific literature however, there had been no such study done in Africa where HIV/AIDS was having a major impact on the many lives.
In meeting with individuals within the Rwanda Health Ministry, it became clear that the only way to really make a long-term difference would be to run a formal controlled clinical trial. Within a few days of Dr. Warren’s visit, he was introduced to physicians within the health ministry and in other related organizations who were enthusiastic about such a study. On returning to Canada, several academics and researchers who were willing to provide support to the Rwanda team in setting up the study were contacted and they agreed to serve on the research team.
It took three years to establish a Canadian charitable organization (GB Canada) that would financially support the study, and to get all the approvals necessary from the various levels of the Rwandan government. Mark worked closely with his father in providing leadership to the establishment of GB Canada. The Rwanda Selenium Supplementation Clinical trial ran for approximately three years and was completed in 2013. The positive outcome was published in the Journal AIDS. GB Canada continued to distribute selenium to all participants in the study and increased the distribution to approximately 1000 patients for an additional two years. The study showed that selenium supplementation significantly slowed the rate of decline in the health status of those diagnosed with HIV infection.
Even with the strong evidence of the positive outcomes of selenium on participants it was difficult to scale these accomplishments. It was during this time that GB Canada began to review its mandate and strategy for the future. Although a strong commitment to evidence-based approaches was maintained there was recognition for the need to be able to finance such programs during the catalyzing for such a promising intervention as selenium and HIV.
In 2017, the GB Canada board of directors appointed Terry Gray as the Executive Director to restructure GB Canada to join a movement of social architects who are committed to maximizing the impact of social programs. In this process, GB Canada changed its name to Impact Bridges Group. As a not-for-profit, Impact Bridges Group builds bridges with leading actors in innovative financing, management consulting, and others who can help improve development results for the poor and marginalized. It also builds bridges with implementing organizations who prioritize program efficiency, which means maximizing the impact of existing and future programs.
Impact Bridges Group prioritizes improving efficiency and distributive justice because of the large gap between existing financial resources for development and the resources needed by developing countries to provide essential social services.
The cost of solving social problems such as malnutrition, water borne diseases, education, housing and others runs in the trillions of dollars while global philanthropy and government aid budgets combined are in the billions.
In all sectors, there is a gap between the need for funding and the philanthropic, charity, and donor funding available. This situation was clearly articulated at forums being held world-wide including the G7 Impact Investing Global Steering Group meetings.
Traditionally, the development community would advocate donors for increased funding, as well as, design new marketing products to increase philanthropic giving. This should be pursued, but a prerequisite to doing so should be to make sure those resources will be used in the most efficient manner, and are targeted towards the most vulnerable. Only then can optimum impact be achieved. Otherwise, the inefficiencies are wasting valuable resources.
Social development programs should be designed to maximize the net social benefits for a community. This means looking at project design from both a cost and benefit view point and making sure there are incentives for all stakeholders to want to ensure its success.
It’s important to assess the design of projects in order to make sure the highest attainable level of social benefits is achieved and are allocated justly amongst stakeholders. When organizations are committed to achieving efficiency (maximizing net benefits) and equity (distributive justice) they have secured a mindset that can then take previously insurmountable problems, and look at them through a new lens. One of the lens will be innovative financing which is largely built on efficiency.
These larger pools of resources, that will be the main source of funding the gap, will come from major financial institutions and capital markets. For this to occur, the tradeable financing instruments will need to be developed that integrate measurement systems along with social impacts and financial risk.
Knowing the changes that are taking place, Impact Bridges Group approaches project assessments and financing of development programs with a different mindset and strategy. As such, we seek out implementing partners committed to continual improvement and with demonstrated track records to tap into new financing models. This pool of partners needs to grow and IBG is passionate about working with implementing partners who are committed to achieving high-impact, but have yet to develop a robust track record.
IBG wants to work with like-minded partners in making a significant contribution towards solving the world’s biggest social problems. To do so, will require every tool at our disposal. Charitable donations, government aid, and philanthropic giving will all be important, but the emphasis must be on how these funds are used and not primarily in securing them.
As part of its own efforts to improve efficiency Impact Bridges Group works with strategic partners in delivering services and implementing programs.
Onome is an experienced international development specialist working in humanitarian and development contexts. Her work has focused on partnership building and management; donor/ private sector engagement, and innovative program development and implementation. She has worked throughout the world and has developed strategies, tools and programs in consultation with stakeholders such as the community, government bodies, extractive industry and civil society. Onome managed programs in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh where she helped develop approaches that ensured communities made the transition from an emergency to a development context.
Onome is an associate of the Nigerian Leadership Initiative, a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network. Onome is a mentor with the Creative Institute for Toronto Young (CITY) Leaders, United Way where she supports the growth of young leaders to achieve their professional and personal goals. Onome holds an MSC from the London School of Economics.
Michael works with national and regional development finance institutions to provide both leadership and extensive technical support in the areas of governance, organisational structure, and risk management, and has advised national and regional development banks in Africa, South East Asia, and Asia. He previously held numerous roles in commercial and investment banking, culminating in the COO and Head of Risk in London and New York at the "World's Safest Bank" (Global Finance, 2014). Michael also serves on 3 boards as the Chair and Non-Executive Board Director at Vision Fund International (in Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo), a top ranked microfinance institution (Forbes, 2015).
Christopher Cotton is the holder of the Jarislowsky-Deutsch Chair in Economic and Financial Policy in the Department of Economics at Queen’s University, where his teaching and research interests involve experimental economics, the strategic interaction between businesses and governments, and the evaluation of social policies. He serves as the Director of the John Deutsch Institute for the Study of Economic Policy at Queen’s, one of the oldest academic research institutes in Canada. And in the time he has left, he helps governments and organizations with evaluation through Limestone Analytics, where he serves as VP of Research. There, he is currently leading the evaluation of training programs for at risk youth in El Salvador and Honduras, and the evaluation of the UK’s Department for International Development Girl’s Education Challenge project in Zimbabwe.
Rupen Das is research professor at Tyndale University College and Seminary in Toronto and national director of the Canadian Bible Society. His previous academic appointments have included faculty at the International Baptist Theological Study Centre (IBTSC) in Amsterdam, program director of the Masters (MRel) program at the Institute of Middle East Studies (IMES) in Beirut, Lebanon, and professor and program coordinator of international project management at Humber College in Toronto. He has extensive experience in relief and development with World Vision, and as a consultant to the Canadian Government, the Canadian military, Plan Canada, and numerous other organizations. He has been an Ashoka Fellow, a 21st Century Fellow in the UK, and a Visiting Scholar at Harvard. He is the author of Compassion and the Mission of God: Revealing the Invisible Kingdom and Strangers in the Kingdom: Refugees, Migrants and the Stateless. He is a co-author and co-editor of the upcoming book by Praeger, The Poor and Poverty In The World’s Religious Traditions: Religious Responses to the Problem of Poverty.
Ryan Fobel is a co-founder and CEO of Sci-Bots Inc., a company developing portable, general-purpose hardware and software for automating and miniaturizing biology and chemistry applications. Ryan completed his PhD in Aaron Wheeler’s lab at the University of Toronto where he developed an open-source digital microfluidic instrument (DropBot) and a new technique for low-cost biochip fabrication using inkjet printing. For his post-doctoral research, Ryan worked with a talented team of students and post-docs in the Wheeler Lab to develop a point-of-care instrument for measles and rubella serosurveillance. In collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control, they evaluated their new point-of-care diagnostic test in two successful field trials: Kakuma Refugee camp, Kenya (May 2016) and in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (August 2017).
Zari Gill, MD helps organizations succeed through futuristic thinking, innovation and resource optimization. She graduated from Johns Hopkins University with a Masters degree in Public Health and has served as a global development professional across the world leading teams in Africa, Asia and Latin America. With more than twenty years of international experience Zari’s expertise include program and policy development, analysis for program objectives, providing high level technical and management inputs, work plan creation and performance monitoring plans.
Dr. Gill is the founder of Red Shawl; women’s community organization, and spearheaded new initiatives providing opportunities for low-resourced grass roots women, finding solutions and building momentum across political, private and public sectors to push for new and better approaches for women’s economic empowerment.
Zari won the “Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal” for her community services in Canada. She is passionate about equity and social change and is committed to process-setting for tangible, scalable results to improve lives and wealth creation for women at the bottom of the pyramid. She is one of the five Canadian women nominated as Global Champions for Women’s Economic Empowerment 2015.
Executive Director, IBG
Terry has worked in the international development sector for more than 25 years, primarily with non-governmental organizations (NGOs). During this time, he lived in Canada, as well as over ten years in Haiti, Malawi and South Africa. He has been a consultant to multilateral institutions, private sector organizations, universities and NGOs. In January 2014, Terry formalized his consulting work by creating Graystcon and Associates, providing short-term consulting to various clients on innovative financing models. He is also a regular lecturer for executive courses at universities and training institutions.
Terry is well known for his community development work, especially in brokering multi-sector partnerships to address complex development challenges. He has extensive experience managing cross-sector teams and working on institutional capacity development programs for local government and other district and sub-district organizations. In November 2017, Terry was appointed Executive Director of Impact Bridges Group.
Since the beginning of 2016, with Incitāre launched as an open platform for results-oriented collaboration, Beris has leveraged several decades of international experience in foreign relations, development cooperation and humanitarian affairs in governmental and not for profit/civil society to catalyse shifts in mindsets, policies and practice to support the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
An intuitive “complex systems” thinker, with strong networking, representational and facilitation skills, Beris has played an important role in raising awareness of the potential of Strategic Foresight to create space to imagine and explore plausible futures to design and implement prototype initiatives (eg in sustainable agriculture, health, water and sanitation, waste and energy and education) at scale.
Beris is a powerful advocate for multi-sector, inter-disciplinary and “sustainable business” partnerships that prioritise intellectual curiosity, relational solidarity and mutual accountability for transformational impact enabled, enhanced and accelerated by digitalisation and innovative SDG purposed financing.
Bahman is the founder and the president of Limestone Analytics and an adjunct lecturer at Queen’s University. Prior to Limestone, he worked for 8 years as a consultant in the areas of public investment management, economic analysis of development projects, and evaluation of social programs. Bahman has worked on capacity building and technical advisory projects in Rwanda, Kenya, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Haiti, Malaysia, Canada, United States, Cyprus, Cameroon, and Switzerland. His research interests include economics of energy markets in developing countries, integration of environmental and social impacts into cost-benefit analysis, monitoring and evaluation for performance management and learning, and institutional aspects of investment management. He currently holds advisory positions in the area of economic analysis at US Agency for International Development (USAID) and Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) - the primary aid agencies of US government.
David is professor and director of the Urban Community Development program at Wycliffe
College at the University of Toronto. He is also senior partner at Kabisa International where he
consults in international projects, community engagement models, and NGO strategy. He has
been practicing as a GEM Initiative certified facilitator of Appreciative Inquiry for two decades. David seeks to interweave the academic, professional and practitioner worlds of social change, community development, aid and faith. He is a constant student of action-research, citizen advocacy, contextual theology and adult learning.
Over the past 30 years David has listened, facilitated, researched and managed with
organizations and projects in 25 countries. He has authored academic, professional and popular publications in organizational change, poverty and theology, FBOs, urbanization, community development, environment and gender
David is married to Ellen Ericson Kupp, an expert in strategic communications. They have three adult children. If you can’t find David, he’s somewhere in the city with a community project. Or he may have snuck off to his woodworking shop. Or disappeared among the islands of Georgian Bay.
Dr. Chen Liu is Assistant Professor in Finance at Trinity Western University where her teaching and research interests lie in the areas of Blockchain, FinTech, business valuation, financial management, social enterprise and impact investing. Dr. Liu has extensive experience in valuing companies and managing growth for companies including startups, family businesses, pre-IPO firms, and publicly traded companies, for the purposes of start-up financing, venture capital and private equity investment, strategic merger & acquisition (buy-side and sell-side), IPO valuation, and stock investment.
Dr. Liu is also co-founder and CFO of Coinchain Capital Inc., a technology company that provides blockchain solutions to business enterprises, governments, and non-profit organizations. Her work at Coinchain includes advisory on full-cycle ICO and enterprise blockchain solutions, with a particular focus on the consumer, healthcare, supply chain, non-profit and financial sectors.
With eight years of research and consulting experience, Dr. Liu is a well sought-after expert and frequent speaker on investment, entrepreneurship, Blockchain, and FinTech. Dr. Liu obtained her Ph.D. in Finance from Queen’s University in 2014.
Travis Ratnam is the Managing Partner at Adonis Partners, a leading consultancy specializing in Project Management and Lean Six Sigma based Continuous improvement programs. Prior to joining Adonis, Travis was the Global VP - Business Excellence at Avintiv, a $2B Blackstone Private Equity Portfolio company.
With his experience in leading continuous improvement programs across five companies – General Electric, Brambles, CHEP, Recall and Avintiv – Travis has established himself as an authority on deployment of improvement and change acceleration programs. He has successfully deployed global continuous improvement programs in both operational and transactional environments in companies of varying sizes, consistently delivering operating profit benefits greater than 1.5% of revenue annually.
Travis is also an Adjunct Faculty Member at the Schulich School of Business, where he teaches the Masters Certificate in Lean Six Sigma Black Belt and the Masters Certificate in Supply Chain Management Programs. He is a Certified Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt who has delivered training at all levels (Executive, Champion, Black Belt, Green Belt and Yellow Belt) and led numerous Lean Six Sigma projects.
A social entrepreneur-operator and an investor, MJ helped build a multi-million dollar micro-loan portfolio in rural India and worked with women entrepreneurs helping create a co-operative of over 200 members.
For the last few years, MJ has been working with impact investors. He supported the team at Grand Challenges Canada – Canada’s leading impact investor. Thereafter, he has been working with individual and institutional asset owners and asset managers helping, advising, and supporting them on their impact investment journey. He currently advises a combined (targeted) portfolio of over $20M.
MJ’s passion for social change is complemented by his corporate experience in Capital Markets and Corporate Strategy, and his degrees in Engineering and M.B.A.
Elaine is an organizational and program quality specialist who has more than 15 years' experience in leading and implementing a wide range of strategic, programmatic and quality assurance processes to support leadership and staff in development and humanitarian aid programs. To date her expertise has covered ongoing learning and improvement in over 25 countries in all regions of the world across 11 sectors, including youth programming, gender equality and disability inclusion. She is passionate about community-driven monitoring, evaluation and learning systems that provide information for a wide range of stakeholders and decision-makers. She has worked with local, national, regional and global programs to simplify their processes to collect and summarize information in a concise way for timely, strategic decision-making and action.
Rebecca Tiessen is a specialist in gender and development and volunteering for development. Her work focuses on building capacity for development through gender equality programming and with the support of international actors in partnership with local community efforts. She has worked with many development organizations in Canada and the Global South to examine the translation of policy into practice within organizations. In particular, she has examined gender mainstreaming policies and their day-to-day impacts within development organizations. Her work on international volunteering includes work with both volunteer sending and volunteer receiving organizations to understand the impact of international volunteers in building capacity for international development programming.
Gerhard (Gerry) Tonn is a senior consultant with extensive expertise in government strategic planning, management (including financial management), capital investment planning, service delivery, policy analysis, governance and capacity building. He has consulted to both national and sub national governments (focusing on local government) in both North America and internationally. His expertise includes the design of inter-governmental service delivery and revenue sharing arrangements, public private partnerships and service delivery arrangements involving civil society organizations. He has consulted on major legislative reforms, policy reviews and government processes as well as designing implementation strategies for government programs. Gerry holds a graduate degree from the University of British Columbia and has completed executive business programs at the Harvard Business School, the University of California (Berkeley) and the University of Oxford.
Dr. Julieta Villegas completed a Master’s degree in Health Policy, Planning and Financing at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the London School of Economics and Political Science in 2015. In her native Colombia, she obtained a Master’s degree in Clinical Epidemiology in 2013, and a Medical Doctor degree in 2009 at Pontificia Universidad Javeriana. Dr. Villegas is experienced in the provision of technical guidance for the development of country-level strategies to scale-up newborn health interventions to reduce neonatal mortality. As well as in public health projects requiring research, situation analysis, policy evaluation, translation of research findings to policy and strategic policy recommendations.
In her work with the Kangaroo Foundation she served as a technical advisor and expert on the Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) Development Impact Bond in Cameroon, and has provided quality services for KMC programs in Colombia, Kenya, and India and conducted research on the short and long-term impacts of KMC.
Dr. Villegas currently works as an International Consultant for maternal, newborn and child health.